A quick aside before we get to Michelle Yeoh and Gemma Chan’s red carpet looks – remember all that business about fighting over presenters and the Academy telling people that if they presented at any other award shows, they wouldn’t be able to come to the Oscars? One of those people was supposed to be Margot Robbie. She wasn’t at the Oscars last night. I wonder what happened. 

Anyway, if Margot had been there, for sure she would have been in Chanel Haute Couture, from the last collection presented during Paris Fashion Week in January. You know what though? I didn’t miss her. Because there was a lot of other haute couture straight off the Paris runways last night.

Let’s start with Michelle in Elie Saab. With Margot and Chanel, often the pieces look better on the runway than they do on her, not because she’s not a model and how the piece itself fits, but because of how the piece has been styled. Margot wore Chanel to the BAFTAs a couple of weeks ago - the dress was exquisite on the runway, and wasn’t working at all on her, because of the hair and the shoes. Michelle, on the other hand, actually makes her Elie Saab look even better. It wasn’t all that special to me on the runway. In fact, with the sheer skirt, it seemed rather ordinary. Exquisite beading and detail but still not necessarily a standout.  


Note that Michelle’s version of the dress has been modified – the skirt isn’t sheer and it’s better this way. It makes the dress more substantial, it gives the skirt more shape. She may have been doing it out of modesty but the effect is to elevate the look. It’s no longer basic, like the difference between a minor heiress and a proper queen. 

As for Gemma Chan – I was waiting to see this Valentino at the Oscars. You’ll recall, this entire collection was breathtaking. And when I posted about it a few weeks ago, Gemma’s high-collar, tiered bright pink dress was the one I singled out possibly for Lupita Nyong’o. Right dress, different celebrity. But not wrong. This is the one that isn’t complicated. The colour is amazing. The material is no stress. Nobody is worried about wrinkles and folds here. The fit is no stress either. She could move. She did not have to worry about undergarments. She put her hands in those pockets and swung them around. And oh my God, look at it from the back – it’s a dream!


This was the right choice for the Oscars. Here’s the backup that she wore to Vanity Fair: 


I mean she looks great in that too. But this is definitely a “party” dress, whereas the pink Valentino was a proper event dress. That’s a sign of good style too – knowing which one belongs to which occasion.